New Delhi: Odisha BJP is abuzz with speculation that the party has “unofficially” decided to project Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan as its chief ministerial candidate for the 2019 assembly elections. The talk of a new role for him has upset some state leaders.
During BJP president Amit Shah’s just concluded three-day trip to the state, Mr Pradhan accompanied him to all meetings with party leaders and cadre.
Mr Shah praised Mr Pradhan and his ministry for “good work” and highlighted how the minister “always worries about Odisha and how to develop it”.
Sources said there were apprehensions are that BJP president’s visit and “projection” of Mr Pradhan as chief ministerial candidate could deepen factionalism in the state unit.
Mr Shah’s praise for Mr Pradhan, sources said, has rattled senior state leaders and there is an unease in the camp of Union minister Jual Oram, who is also from Odisha and is known to have chief ministerial aspirations.
Mr Shah has asked state leaders to visit each of the 36,000 poll booths and prepare a report of party’s preparedness till September.
BJP’s political graph is on an upward swing in Odisha, which has been the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) rule since 2000, ever since the saffron party did well in civic polls.
Odisha is one of the key states under Mr Shah’s radar for strengthening the party organisation before the next assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.